Partner

John Karls, CPA

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Partner

Meet John

John has more than 20 years of experience consulting with successful individuals, families and closely held businesses. He leads the High-Net-Worth and Family Office Practices in Dallas. In this role, John specializes in business succession and estate planning for his clients, assisting with their income, trust, gift and estate tax needs. Additionally, he provides tax compliance services for both investment partnerships and private foundations, as well as wealth transfer, stock option and retirement planning for individuals. In a previous role, he served as tax director for a Big 4 accounting firm, assisting family offices, successful individuals, executives and family businesses with their multi-generational business succession and wealth transfer needs.

John received his B.B.A. in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Dallas Estate Planning Council, and the Estate Planning Council of North Texas.

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Experience

Professional History

Associations

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants
  • Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Dallas Estate Planning Council
  • Estate Planning Council of North Texas

Education

  • University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Experience

  • Travis Wolff, LLP
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC)
  • Arthur Andersen LLP
  • Deloitte LLP
Q&A
Q. How has your professional experience shaped your thinking about your area of expertise?
Most high net worth individuals have worked hard to accumulate wealth. At some point in their lives, they want to transfer their wealth and accomplish that in the most tax efficient way, while still achieving charitable goals.

I have come to understand that family issues, real or perceived, are the product of a lack of communication between generations. Too often none of the heirs truly know what the decedent wanted, and this typically creates unnecessary conflict.
Q. How do you help your clients solve these challenges and meet their goals?

Throughout my 20-year career, I have encountered many family dynamics and the associated issues that go along with them. My approach is casual and focused on what’s important to my client and how I can best serve them. Discussing death and taxes isn’t enjoyable, but it can be done productively and proactively.

I listen carefully to understand my client’s goals, criteria and priorities. I establish a plan that addresses and accomplishes these principles in a tax efficient way, collaborating with their estate attorney and other advisors to ensure their best interests are at the forefront. Then I craft and deliver a powerful, yet individualized, estate plan to meet their needs. I provide peace of mind to my clients that their financial and charitable wishes will be accomplished. In addition, they receive comfort knowing that their wealth is being transferred tax efficiently to provide a majority of their assets to their beneficiaries and charities of choice.

Q. What is your favorite client success story?
One that comes to mind was for a family business where the first generation was the sole shareholder, despite all four adult children working in the company. They had charitable desires along with a wish to keep the business in the family. However, no successor was determined, and little communication had occurred.

After meeting with all parties individually and collectively, I helped open the communication and create a plan. By the end of the year, the business was transferred at a discount to the children, through a sale to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs). In addition, the parents created a private foundation and a board consisting of three generations, to educate the second and third generations on the importance of giving and investment management.
Q. What has been your greatest lesson learned over your career?
Let your clients talk, and listen to them. Really hear what they want and what’s important to them. Don’t assume their goals based on similar facts or patterns of other clients.
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Industries Served
John's Thought Leadership
Case Studies
Case Study
Armanino reduced spending and adjusted their portfolio to protect their assets and maintain their desired lifestyle.
Blog articles
Article
Many wealthy individuals and families take advantage of simple techniques like exclusions to optimize their gifting str...
Blog articles
Article
This common family scenario illustrates the gift tax arithmetic of simple gifts, the use of the annual exclusion, and t...